ISIS: Get Your Boarding Passes Ready: Next Stop, the USA.

Phil Johnson, Ph.D.
June 20, 2016

Let’s start with a brief review of what ISIS has been up to since their infamous split from al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2014, (who found ISIS just a bit too intense for their tastes…go figure): ISIS held a siege at Mt. Singar against the Yazidis (a minority religious group) which resulted in the slaughter of at least 500 men. Yazidis women were sold into slavery. Aid workers and journalists have been beheaded. Children have been crucified. Coptic Christians were lined up on a beach in Libya and beheaded. A Jordanian pilot, Muath Al-Kasaesbeh, was burned to death in a cage. Some 600 Iraqi men were taken into the desert near the city of Mosul and executed. Four children who refused to convert to Islam were beheaded. 3500 Yazidi women were sold into sexual slavery. 139 people were killed in a multiple-location coordinated attack in Paris last November. Fourteen people were killed in San Bernardino, California in December of 2015.  Thirty-two people were killed at the airport in Brussels in March of 2016. And most recently, last week, fifty people were killed at an Orlando, Florida Nightclub by an ISIS-inspired radical as he yelled out “Allahu Akbar” and called 911 to announce his pledge to ISIS. And those are just the highlights.

Between the five-year old Syrian Civil War, the American-led coalition airstrikes on ISIS positions, the involvement of Russia since late 2015, (not to mention the Free Syrian Army, al Nusra Front and Shiite Militias) the Syrian Civil War has created the worst humanitarian crisis since World War 2.  Currently, the death toll for the Syrian Civil War has exceeded 470,000 according to the New York Times. 

According to the U.N., 6.6 million Syrians are displaced internally. According to Amnesty International 4.5 million refugees from Syria are living in just five countries – Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. Strangely, Gulf countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have taken in zero Syrian refugees – which makes little sense since they have similar cultures, language and religion. (Yes, yes, these countries counter that they are contributing money to help the refugees, but whatever…how convenient.) Interestingly, Russia, Japan, Singapore and South Korea have also offered absolutely no resettlement places for Syrian refugees.

Strangely, Gulf countries like Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain have taken in zero Syrian refugees

I am all for humanitarian aid, helping people, giving sacrificially, and helping Syrians in crisis (and Iraqis, Afghans, Libyans and others in the world as well). But the  problem is this:  If the U.S. is going to accept a minimum of 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the fiscal year of 2016, we’ve got to have a plan – and it appears to me that at the moment we don’t have one. And why is that a concern? Well, let’s discuss a few things:

Have we learned nothing from Europe?

Apparently not. Europe’s immigration program – which basically looks like an “open-house-come-as-you-are” party has resulted in millions of immigrants, poorly assimilated, problems with discrimination against Muslims, Muslims who have a greater affinity for their home countries (even second generation immigrants) and now pockets of radicalization beleaguering the continent. ISIS has a great PR department and disenfranchised second generational Muslims are especially ripe for recruiting. Actually, according to the publication Foreign Policy,  having an educational degree without being able to fulfill your employment potential increases the likelihood that Muslims will join “clubs” where “belongingness” can be fostered and radicalization can be nurtured. Simply put, Europe has a problem and they’re waking up a bit late to the issue.

Who are the Syrians that the U.S. is accepting? 

It’s the U.N. that refers the Syrian refugees who are to be settled in the U.S. Supposedly, not more than 10,000 refugees will be resettled in the U.S. during the year 2016. The vast majority of whom are Sunni Muslims who generally oppose the Assad regime in Syria and support the rebels who are against the current Syrian government and who have been the targets of ethnic cleansing by the Assad regime. (ISIS are Sunni Muslims as well – just wanted to point that out…) It’s hard to pin down the figures exactly (percentages of women, children and men) – it’s become such a political issue – but it does appear that we are NOT just admitting children and women as refugees. 

How easy is it to vet those coming from Syria?

Not easy at all. Do you think that in a country that’s been at war with itself for five years, is troubling itself with keeping accurate records of who’s who? Do you think that no one has assumed any deceased person’s identify? Do you think they do not possess the capability to create what appear to be valid passports with “clean” identities?

The inconvenient answer is that there is not a reliable nor fast process of vetting an individual’s past, his associations, connections and the potential threat that someone may pose to the citizens of our country. And as a side note – even with a heart for the world -it seems that the primary purpose of our government should be to protects the individual rights, freedoms, liberties and safety of its own citizens. I guess what I’m looking for is reasonable balance – a way to verify who we’re letting into our country, how we can help them, how they can contribute, assimilate and then let’s help as many people as is reasonably possible -without putting Americans at unnecessary risk.

Will ISIS use the confusion of the Syrian humanitarian crisis as an opportunity to slip ISIS trained militants into the mix to attack and kill Americans? 

According to the CIA director John Brennan the answer is “yes.” According to a long-time trusted Syrian source of mine (located in Damascus) who I spoke to this week, the answer is “most likely yes.” According to a trusted Iraqi source, the answer was , “Yes, of course.” James Comey, the director of the FBI has been saying for more than a year that ISIS is already in the U.S. So, I’m telling you now – do not be surprised if there are more problems, more attacks in the U.S. None of of my sources have told me that ISIS is too busy Keeping up with the Kardashians to plan more mayhem.

James Comey, the director of the FBI has been saying for more than a year that ISIS is already in the U.S.

Here’s what CIA director Brennan said earlier this week, (contrary to how Obama is characterizing the conflict with ISIS) “Despite efforts by the U.S. and its allies to strike the terror group, its “terrorism capability and global reach” have not been hampered, he said at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

“We judge that ISIL is training and attempting to deploy operatives for further attacks. ISIL has a large cadre of western fighters who could potentially serve as operatives for attacks in the West. The group is probably exploring a variety of means for infiltrating operatives into the West, including in refugee flows, smuggling routes and legitimate methods of travel.”

Why is Barak Obama so anxious to accelerate accepting Syrian refugees into the U.S.? 

He’s behind on his schedule and to keep his promise to accept at least 10,000 Syrian refugees this year. So far this year, we’ve only accepted about 1300 Syrian refugees. (And about 2000 Syrian refugee since 2001) Obama wants to get the remaining promised 10,000 Syrians refugees approved by October before the November election, because immigration is such a hot-button issue in this year’s election.

The process of vetting Syrian refugees usually takes between 18-24 months. According to the Washington Times, that processing time will now be cut to 3 months with about 600 applicants being interviewed per day.

According to Mr. Obama’s view of the world very, very few people are evil – if any at all. And if a few people are a bit cantankerous, then it’s probably America’s fault for overreaching in the world. Or the fault of guns. Any threats made by ISIS, any warnings by the FBI or CIA are ignored. Any outcries of concerned citizens are simply viewed as coming from bigoted, racist, Islamophobic people.

Strangely, Obama doesn’t have any trouble using drone strikes – strikes that have killed  terrorists as well as many innocent people, but he seems to have a huge probably with the possibility of offending an American-Muslim by using certain words or suggesting that there are some devout Muslims who believe in interpreting the Koran literally in every sense and who believe Shariah Law should be applied in its strictest sense.

Strangely, Obama doesn’t have any trouble using drone strikes – strikes that have killed  terrorists as well as many innocent people, but he seems to have a huge problem with the possibility of offending an American-Muslim by using certain words

And as I have  clearly documented in other articles, I do not believe that most Muslims are violent or want to cause harm to anyone. But there are those who read the Koran in a very literal way and believe in their hearts that they are pleasing Allah by killing homosexuals, Christians, Jews, infidels and anyone who doesn’t think and believe as they do. These beliefs exist and they exist in America already today.  And this is NOT an indictment against the Muslims community who repudiates this kind of thinking and who reject verses in the Koran that can be interpreted as violent against others and the implication of punitive Shariah Law.)

Why haven’t we wiped out ISIS already? 

Simple answer: If we had wanted to, we would have. If you want to know more about why, we will discuss that in another blog. The answer is complicated and involves way too many actors, way too many national interests, strange bed-fellows and way too much of a game for regional influence and dominance.

Why haven’t we wiped out ISIS already? Simple answer: If we had wanted to, we would have. 

But by not getting rid of ISIS, it encourages them to view any success as the blessing of Allah. ISIS believes that they are uniquely written into God’s story of end-time events – they are an apocalyptic group and that is part of what motivates them and their attacks on others.  Once they start losing significantly, they will begin to believe that Allah’s blessing is gone – and maybe they would just get jobs, cable, watch Netflix and be done with it. But you have to go after the ideology, understand the ideology and name the ideology as radical Islamic terrorism if you want to defeat it. At the moment, based on their rather modest losses, their growth in other places, and a media propaganda machine that is very good at spinning information, ISIS still believe they are winning, so they are encouraged.

I am not against immigration – I AM against stupidity and flawed policies. But common sense seems to be on summer holiday. So, as of the moment – dear refugees – we know things in this world are broken – and we know that many of you have endured things that most of us will never conjure up in our worst nightmares. So just select your seat, fasten your seatbelt, put your tray table in an upright position and prepare for your trip to America. I hope you have an enjoyable flight, and we hope you enjoy your stay. This nation, in case you haven’t heard, is not a perfect country, but it is the best country on the face of the earth. A country that at its worst moments still has noble intentions and who after a couple hundred years of change, still offers more freedom and opportunity than anywhere else on earth.

But on the off chance that any of you have an ideology that dictates that you hate us, hate our way of life, hate our freedoms, want to establish Shariah Law in the United States or want to find a way to harm innocent citizens, we politely and clearly ask you to remove yourself from the plane and don’t forget to take your carryon luggage with you.


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